Zero to One by Peter Thiel is our Week 4, Book 4, April 2020 – read One Book Weekly and thrive

Get a copy of the book, Zero to One, and transform your thinking with original ideas. Few books challenge your current positions and outlook.

Get a copy of the book, Zero to One, and transform your thinking with original ideas. Few books challenge your current positions and outlook. Zero to one is such a book.

In this world full of copycats, Zero to One, will empower you to think differently and win. According to Peter Thiel, the author who is an entrepreneur and investor and co-founded PayPal and Palantir, each moment happens once. Do not try to copy the Google model and expect to succeed. Such a moment happened once. So was Amazon, or social networking site Facebook. The point is folks who think differently win.

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To quote the book, “the next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.” He adds, ” Google is a good example of a company that went from 0 to 1: it hasn’t competed in search since the early 2000s when it definitively distanced itself from Microsoft and Yahoo!  The lesson for entrepreneurs is clear: if you want to create and capture lasting value, don’t build an undifferentiated commodity business.”

This is a great book for all as it will transform your thinking. When you create something new, you go from 0 to 1. However, when you copy what is already existing, you are just going 1 to n… and remember copycats can succeed too, but cannot break the ceiling unless of course, they do it in a new market!

To be creative, there is no formula. Zero to One is about how to build companies that create new things. There is no formula in creating new things. In thinking differently.

On page 6 of the book, the author writes thus:

“Zero to One draw on everything I’ve learned directly as a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir and then an investor in hundreds of start-ups, including Facebook and SpaceX. But while I have
noticed many patterns, and I relate them here, this book offers no formula for
success. The paradox of teaching entrepreneurship is that such a formula necessarily cannot exist; because every innovation is new and unique, no authority can prescribe in concrete terms how to be innovative. Indeed, the single most powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas Yours is a road that has never been taken. You are a path maker, not the finder.” 

You must think differently if you are to win.

Outliers focus on the challenge of the future

On page 7 ebook version, Peter Thiel writes that leaders have a bias on the challenge of the future in everything they do. As a leader, he has one key question to ask potential staff and partners.  Below is a writeup from the book, verbatim:

“Whenever I interview someone for a job, I like to ask this question: “What
important truth do very few people agree with you on?”

This question sounds easy because it’s straightforward. It’s very hard to answer. It’s intellectually difficult because the knowledge that everyone is taught in school is by definition agreed upon. And it’s psychologically difficult because anyone trying to answer must say something, she knows to be unpopular. Brilliant thinking is rare, but courage is in even shorter supply than genius.

Most commonly, I hear answers like the following:

“Our educational system is broken and urgently needs to be fixed.”
“America is exceptional.”
“There is no God.”

Those are bad answers. The first and second statements might be true, but many people already agree with them. The third statement simply takes one side in a familiar debate. A good answer takes the following form: “Most people believe in x, but the truth is the opposite of x.” I’ll give my answer later in this chapter.  What does this contrarian question have to do with the future? In the most minimal sense, the future is simply the set of all moments yet to come. But what makes the future distinctive and important isn’t that it hasn’t happened yet, but rather that it will be a time when the world looks different from today. In this sense, if nothing about our society changes for the next 100 years, then the future is over
100 years away. If things change radically in the next decade, then the future is nearly at hand. No one can predict the future exactly, but we know two things: it’s going to be different, and it must be rooted in today’s world. Most answers to the contrarian question are different ways of seeing the present; good answers are as close as we can come to looking into the future.”

Go get a copy. This is one hell of a book. I highly recommend it.

Want to thrive and become a better leader, manager or entrepreneur? Join my forum here, Winning is about taking one step at a time in the right direction. As they say, speed is useless if the direction is wrong.


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